Botswana Congress Party Youth League (BCPYL) seeks to condemn the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) for their roguish gesture of blankets donation to President Ian Khama for later distribution to the poor. The BCPYL wishes to reiterate that blankets distribution by Khama is vote-buying; consequently, by donating blankets to Khama the church is abetting this political corruption and in so doing taking a political side.
Vote-buying (e.g.: cash-for-votes, blankets-for-votes or radios-for-votes or other gifts) and clientelism, which denotes the exchange of votes for favors, have become Ian Khama and the Botswana Democratic Party’s contemporary political strategy. Blankets-for-votes and other vote-buying gimmicks by Khama have tarnished Botswana’s democracy as they detract in particular from the fairness of the electoral process.
The church is supposed to be a unifier; it shouldn’t take sides in politics. The UCCSA ought to know where poor people in need of blankets can be found in the country. We expect the church to go directly to the poor people or to the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in need of such assistance, for instance the Botswana Red Cross Society. The Church is also aware of acute shortage of blankets in public hospitals and that patients are required to bring blankets when they are admitted for hospitalization in winter season. Why didn’t the church donate blankets directly to hospitals?
The league is of the view that UCCSA is prompting a dangerous phenomenon, a precedent that has the potential to bring the church into a crisis and sow seeds of political discord. We are of the opinion that religion, not just Christianity, is an integral part of our society as it plays a very important role in bringing the society in unity, mutual co-operation, understanding and peace. The church is supposed to speak for justice, human rights and freedoms and the plight of the poor.
Religion also plays the role of moral and or ethical guidance. Philanthropy is inextricably linked with the church. All religions and the Setswana culture encourage it. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ preached and encouraged genuine benevolence.
We appeal to the UCCSA leaders to emulate the likes of Anglican Arch Bishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Catholic Bishop Pius Ncube in Zimbabwe, the late Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Janani Luwum and many other progressive church leaders who spoke truth to power. These clergymen (and in many cases women) and others spoke against dictatorship, discrimination, corruption and violation of human rights and freedoms.
Whilst the UCCSA has many church leaders who are BDP members and activists and has BDP bigwigs as its members, it must, as a matter of principle, be considerate of other members who may be members of other political parties or are not aligned to any political party.